So I baked bread today
Don’t tell Matt, but I have a minor obsession with Mark Bittman at the moment. I just finished watching the entire series Spain- On the Road Again on DVD and while Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow kind of got on my nerves just the tiniest bit at times, Mark Bittman and Claudia Bassols were always charming- even over multiple episodes at one sitting. So having watched the whole thing (including the bonus features at the end) I was left wanting more. That’s when I discovered Mark Bittman’s blog for the New York Times entitled Bitten.
Now I realize that most of the world already knows about the endearing-yet-curmudgeonly Bittman, either because of his wildly popular How to Cook Everything cookbooks or because of his most-emailed-ever (or something like that) no-knead bread recipe, but this is all a new discovery for me and I plan on reveling in it. I mean- he’s a cookbook / newspaper writer who, although he has been on TV a fair bit, isn’t a celebrity chef. He manages to come across like a regular guy. That’s pretty rare in itself- but apparently this man also holds the key to easily making bread at home? Where have you been all my life, Mark Bittman?!
Hang on, I’m reveling . . .
Okay. So reading his recipe for no-knead bread led me to read a ton of blogs and forums about baking it. Breadtopia, in particular, was a great resource. It was on that site that I discovered that Cook’s Illustrated had tweaked the recipe to fix a couple of flaws that they’d noticed in the original: 1) the bread didn’t rise enough 2) it didn’t taste like much. I’m a big Cook’s Illustrated fan and I figure whatever way they say is the best way- they’ve tested it a bazillion times. So at this point I’d decided to try the Cook’s version.
But at this point in the evening what I really needed to do was get my lazy self off of the couch and make dinner before So You Think You Can Dance came on, which I did, but when SYTYCD did come on I discovered (much to my chagrin) that Toni Basil was the guest judge. Now if you’re a fan of the show you know just what I’m talking about: that woman talks. A lot. So the only way Matt and I could make it through the show was to turn on the mute button each time it was her turn to speak. That allowed me to watch the super-helpful videos on Breadtopia demonstrating the technique for the revised Cook’s Illustrated bread. The recipe calls for the dough to be mixed and left to rise overnight, so I decided that I’d go ahead and do that first step.
I started as soon as Ms. Basil started talking about Brandon and Jeanette’s awesome hip hop routine and was done in time to see Kupono and Kayla dance on the other end of the commercial break. It couldn’t have been easier or faster. Then today, I dumped out the dough, kneaded it ten times (the Cook’s Illustrated recipe is Almost No-Knead Bread so there is a small amount of kneading), and placed it on oiled parchment to rise a second time. An hour and a half later I started preheating my dutch oven. Then thirty minutes later my little round ball of dough was placed, parchment and all, into the preheated dutch oven. The whole thing went off without a hitch, just like the nice man in the breadtopia video.
It looked and smelled amazing and it tastes . . . like homemade bread, which is a beautiful thing.
So, if anyone is reading this- go watch the little instructional video and make some bread!